West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle Crime Prevention Council http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 06:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 West Seattle Crime Prevention Council, report #2: SPD’s plan for last day of school and rest of summer http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-report-2-spds-plan-for-last-day-of-school-and-rest-of-summer/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-report-2-spds-plan-for-last-day-of-school-and-rest-of-summer/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 20:48:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=276767 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske has a plan for tomorrow – the last day of Seattle Public Schools classes – and he told the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council about it last night during the WSCPC meeting at Lincoln Park.

That and other toplines ahead:

First in the briefing – No big headlines in the crime-trend notes. Burglaries, auto thefts, and strongarm robberies continue to be concerns. Capt. Wilske (right) mentioned the burglary for which two teenage girls were arrested, reported here two weeks ago; we asked him post-meeting if they were suspected in any other cases, and he said so far, no, but the investigation continues.

He also mentioned the Jacobsen Road strong-arm robbery – first reported here, with a followup here – and another street robbery that involved a gun (3 am last Saturday in the 2000 block of Alki SW, per a report we subsequently obtained). In most cases, the victim is attacked while distracted from her/his surroundings, so Capt. Wilske urged everyone to be hyper-aware while out and about.

And he mentioned something else already reported here, that repeat offender Ryan Cox is out of jail, now that he’s served all the time remaining on his most recent sentence. He has a hearing one week from today, so, Wilske said, “let the precinct know if there’s any problem with him.”

Then he brought up the last day of school tomorrow. Starting around noon, the precinct is bringing in additional staffing, and they will be on as late as needed, with Alki as a focus, though not the only area of emphasis. Drinking is a major trigger for trouble, Wilske noted, so they’ll be looking for that; if you’re on Alki, you’ll see police tomorrow from many areas of the department, including Gang Unit, Anti-Crime Team, and other teams.

Other big events for which SPD is planning a beefed-up presence include the Seafair Pirates Landing on June 28th (one week from Saturday) and the big South Park Bridge celebration the next day – he stressed that trouble is not expected at any of these events, but when thousands of people gather, SPD wants to be there in the better-safe-than-sorry vein. And extra police will be on duty on the 4th of July. Asked about fireworks calls on and before the holiday, Wilske said that they will be responded to when they can (he didn’t mention this, but for example, we know that SPD went to Lincoln Park after reports of fireworks last Saturday, possibly associated with gatherings after two local high-school graduations).

In addition to Alki, Wilske said Westwood Village/Roxhill Park remains high on the list of areas for extra attention this summer. He reiterated his previously mentioned plans to make bike patrol possible for much of the precinct force, with two bicycle-riding officers to be stationed on Alki “on a daily basis,” and other areas such as Roxhill getting two-wheeled police depending on how assignments and demands go. The entire Anti-Crime Team will be bicycle-equipped, he added.

A North Admiral issue discussed at the most recent Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting came up briefly – the question of locking the gate at Hamilton Viewpoint Park after-hours. Carol Baker, regional manager for West Seattle-area parks, was at the meeting and said the seasonal gate-locking just began last Sunday night.

Regarding Lincoln Park car prowls, the SPD reps on hand (which included Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores) said both main parking lots are affected, so it’s not an issue of one or the other; they urged people not to leave anything of value in their cars, even if you think it’s safe because you’re hiding it in the trunk or under a seat.

As questions from attendees ran out, and the meeting moved toward an early wrap, one woman threw out a question to Capt. Wilske: “How can we help you?”

His reply: “When you see officers, go up and talk to them, say hello, share your thoughts about law enforcement, whatever. If you see something you’re concerned about, call 911. Even if (it’s something minor) and we don’t get there right away, we do a lot of statistical analysis, I need to know where things are going on.” That means report even car prowls where nothing is taken, etc.

That’s when we asked the new precinct liaison from the City Attorney’s Office, Matthew York, to share information about his background – see that story here.

The WSCPC will not meet again until the third Tuesday in September. The next crime-prevention-related group to meet will be the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network, which meets on fourth Tuesdays, and has the Gang Unit on its agenda for next week – read about that here.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Stolen stroller; hit-run; vandalism http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-crime-watch-stolen-stroller-hit-run-vandalism/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-crime-watch-stolen-stroller-hit-run-vandalism/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 01:50:39 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=276659 Three West Seattle Crime Watch reader reports. First one’s from Johnali:

Our Bob Revolution jogging stroller (black), was stolen from our secured building between 6:30 pm last night and 7:30am this morning. We live on Delridge and Trenton. Anything would be helpful as we are still hopeful we will find it.

Let police know if you do. Second, Lynn‘s hoping to find the hit-run driver who damaged her car and another one just south of The Junction:

The 2 cars that were hit were parked 1/2 block north of Rite Aid, near a telephone and across the street from a large apartment building construction site (west side of California Avenue, SW). My car is a 2013 gray 4 door Nissan Altima. I do not know the make of the other car that was hit, but its owner told me that her left-side mirror was bent backwards and was missing most of the mirror glass. I didn’t find any paint from the car that hit mine. However, I did find a side mirror on the ground near my car that may have been from the car that hit mine. It appears from the damage my car sustained that the offending car came from the north, which would mean that their car would be missing their right side mirror. I’ve kept the side mirror, just in case.

Third, Kezia wondered if anybody else woke up Sunday morning in the Westwood area to find out their car had been vandalized – a crude drawing in black paint on a white car, in her case.

REMINDER: Bring community concerns to the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council‘s meeting at Lincoln Park Shelter 1 tomorrow (Tuesday) night, 7 pm, map here.

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Progress reports on trouble spots and more @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/progress-reports-on-trouble-spots-and-more-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/progress-reports-on-trouble-spots-and-more-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 22:26:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=274107 Even before Tuesday night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, Southwest Precinct police leaders had promised that the Roxhill Park/Westwood Village area would be one of three emphasis spots for beefed-up summertime prevention/enforcement efforts. Westwood in particular dominated the discussion, though precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske said his “summer plan” had not yet won final approval from department leadership.

SUMMER PLAN: With the recent warm weather, “Alki’s starting to get real busy for us,” Capt. Wilske began, saying he plans to have extra officers there on Friday and Saturday nights for starters, as well as increased patrols for Roxhill/Westwood and for Lincoln Park.

One of his strategies, also mentioned at earlier community meetings, is to get officers onto bicycles, at least part-time. He said he’s hoping to have bikes and gear for up to 12 officers. “They’ll be patrol officers, I can’t exempt them from 911 response, (but) they’ll have bikes so when they have down time they’ll be able to get into one of these emphasis areas and start riding.”

WESTWOOD VILLAGE: Community Police Team Officer Jon Kiehn said the recent trouble with shoplifting, threats, and more, tends to involve “the same people over and over again.”

SPD has been working with Westwood management and businesses, he said, to encourage them to use the tools they have to “disallow” troublemakers – such as the “trespass” policy – but “they historically haven’t been using that authority to assist us in dealing with the crime there (so) we’re trying to figure out ways we can work smarter and better with the kids (who are) causing trouble.” In the past month, he said, they’ve made progress: “We’re in a much better place than we were a month ago, trying to identify who they are and why they are there – it’s just a matter of continuing to communicate with businesses and property owners.” Later, he added that SPD has been working with some of the big stores that carry liquor and that at least two stores are beefing up the security of their liquor areas, to deter shoplifting.

STREET ROBBERIES: If you are a regular reader here, you know – even without looking up stats – there’ve been more street robberies reported in recent months than before, and Capt. Wilske acknowledged “a significant increase.” He called them generally “crimes of opportunity, (so) the best way to deal with them is to try to prevent them.” The robbers will notice potential victims using their devices, then “punch them and grab (the device) and they’re gone, we don’t get good descriptions because they usually assault the (victims).” The entire city is seeing an increase in this, he said, so they are working with the department’s Robbery Unit to see “if we can identify or arrest some of these folks (and) get the ACT (Anti-Crime Team) involved – a number of them around Westwood Village, we know who they are; our crime analysis officer has identified (them) so we’ve got a bulletin out … The thing I can’t stress enough is prevention – prevent it by being alert – if you have to use your phone, use it but … don’t be so preoccupied that you’re not looking up and making eye contact with people.” Officer Kiehn added that if it’s late at night and you’re staring at your bright phone screen, then you hear something and look up, your eyes are still getting adjusted and you’re not likely to get a good look at a potential robber.

OTHER CRIMES: Car prowls and burglaries have been at an average level recently, he said, while warning against complacency as summer kicks in. If you’re going somewhere and have to leave something of value in your car, hide it before you get to your destination, so you’re not seen hiding it. And if you choose to leave anything visible – even a bag you know contains only, say, dirty gym clothes – would-be thieves will take 15 seconds to do “$700 worth of damage” to check it out by breaking your vehicle window.

GRAFFITI: An extensive discussion ensued, with frustrated neighbors wondering “what’s happening and why, and why aren’t they getting caught?” There were no easy answers. One particularly prolific tagger, Officer Kiehn said, whose four-letter name starting with “M” is legion, is known to officers, though he wasn’t sure where the vandal’s prosecution stood; he hasn’t seen many new tags recently with that vandal’s handle. Overall, said an attendee, “it’s just getting to be insufferable.” Another attendee advised him to call the city’s graffiti hotline, because the property owner will be required to clean it up within 10 days if it’s private property, or if it’s public property, she said, someone will be sent out within 10 days to clean it up. Capt. Wilske did acknowledge that since graffiti vandalism is generally “misdemeanor property damage,” the penalty for anyone convicted of it is probably less than community members would want to see. “In terms of prosecution, we really rely on public tips,” added Officer Kiehn.

JUVENILE SUSPECTS: In a spinoff from the Westwood Village discussions, an attendee mentioned hearing about employees worried that juvenile troublemakers were waiting nearby to “jump” them, and that led to a discussion about what happens when juveniles are arrested in those circumstances. Whether they are booked into the Youth Service Center or not depends on the “ultimate authority” of screeners at the facility, said Capt. Wilske, but even if they are not booked, and released to their parents, that doesn’t mean they’re getting off without prosecution – police still file reports and prosecutors review them for charges. There’s also a “complex system” of potential services to try to get young offenders back on track.

‘PICKUP HIT BY BULLETS’ CASE: The SPD reps were asked about the circumstances surrounding the recent case of a pickup truck hit by gunfire, described on SPD Blotter (as reported here) as likely “related to ongoing gang activity.” CPT Officer Jon Flores said the concern in the area had involved “particularly one apartment complex (and) kids who may or may not have been gang members,” with police educating property managers there about their ability to kick out non-residents. He added that “the victim whose vehicle got shot was not willing to provide a whole lot of information.”

PROBLEM VEHICLE: An attendee brought up the recent WSB Forums discussion of an aggressive driver, and asked if it were really true that nothing could be done unless an officer actually witnessed the aggressive-driving behavior. The attendee said she believed police were aware of the driver because a dispatcher had been heard (via scanner) mentioning a specific plate number. It was explained that without catching the driver in the act, police wouldn’t be able to prove who was driving; however, given information about the vehicle and owner, they could potentially make a “social contact,” aka a “knock and talk.” The attendee planned to follow up with the Community Police Team.

MORE TO COME: The meeting did turn out to have a special guest – from the Crisis Clinic – and we’ll write separately about the information she provided.

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West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: Trends, concerns, SPD hiring http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-trends-concerns-spd-hiring/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-trends-concerns-spd-hiring/#comments Sun, 23 Mar 2014 02:05:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=268091 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Not so many property-crime reports in West Seattle Crime Watch lately, and the report from Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith (photo left) at this week’s WS Crime Prevention Council offered one reason why: The criminals just haven’t been as busy.

Might be this month’s almost-record-setting rain, Lt. Smith acknowledged, but whatever the case, burglaries in the week preceding Tuesday’s meeting were down to 6 from the average 9 – “we’d like to get to zero,” he noted, mentioning that the SW Anti-Crime Team is “going after people related to a theft ring, on top of burglary, stolen property, narcotics … there will be some search warrants served.” (Whether that’s related to the 32nd/Juneau bust reported here Thursday night, we’re still trying to find out.)

Auto-theft cases in the preceding week were down as well, Lt. Smith reported – 5, compared to the average 8; non-residential burglaries average 2, and there had been one.

Community concerns voiced immediately after the crime-trends briefing included local parks – questions about the gate at Hamilton Viewpoint Park in North Admiral not being locked at night, and about unlocked bathrooms at Roxhill Park late at night. Lt. Smith and Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores promised to check into both.

The meeting’s featured guests were from the Seattle Police recruiting team – talking about how SPD finds, screens, trains, and hires candidates.

Hiring is a critical issue for the department, they explained, since there are about 200 members of the force – nearly 1 in 6 – who are eligible for retirement or almost there. And the time between application and hiring, for qualified candidates, is up to 10 months, followed by more than 4 months in the academy, and five more months of training, resulting in about a year and a half between application and hiring. So they are scouring the community for potential new hires, and have a website – seattlepolicejobs.com.

Officers Sonya Fry and Andre Sinn (photo right) were accompanied by Detective Kevin Nelson, whose specialty is background-checking candidates. This year, they’re hoping to hire 85 new officers, and up to 75 each of the next two years, but that’s not as easy as simply putting out the call. Even before a candidate gets to the academy, there are written, video, and physical-agility tests; an oral board; extensive background checks; polygraph; psychological and physical examinations. To be a sworn officer, you have to be a US citizen, and have a driver’s license. There are also criteria such as, if you have a history of marijuana use, you can’t have used it for the past year (used to be three years, the officers said), nor more than 25 times in 10 years.

For the test this past February, 1,300 people applied; 500 showed up; 200 failed written and video testing, so it was down to 300 going into the physical-agility test. Overall, one new officer results from each 20 or so applicants.

Officers Fry and Sinn go everywhere they can to recruit; even the visit to the Crime Prevention Council was in hopes the word will get out about this possible career, and their upcoming calendar includes going to the Northwest Women’s Show. (They were asked how many applicants are female and said they didn’t have that statistic, but did say women comprise 14 percent of the current force.)

No age limit, by the way, they told the WSCPC attendees: “We have some joining after they retire from the military, starting a second career in law enforcement.” The minimum age is 20 1/2, so that you’ll be over 21 by the time of potential hiring.

If you’re interested in a specialty, such as CSI, that’s not going to happen right from the start – everyone begins as a patrol officer. After three years, you can go to “detective school” – that rank, by the way, is the same level as patrol officer. (We didn’t realize this until testimony in the murder trial we’re covering, in which a detective testified about being supervised by a sergeant.)

What are the rules about hair? asked one woman in attendance. “Has to be off your collar,” replied Officer Fry. She talked about her fitness regime and how it’s important to “stay in shape so I can run after the 18-year-olds who are running away from me.” Lots of CrossFit training, she noted, saying later that she’s been on the force nine years (Officer Sinn and Det. Nelson are both 15-year veterans).

Can you ask to be assigned to the Southwest Precinct? asked another attendee.

Lt. Smith answered that one: “It’s a hard precinct to get assigned to; the officers that work here love this community – (as opposed to other areas) you guys wave at us with all your fingers!” Though he’s way up the ladder now, he said he enjoyed old-time police work – “walking the beat, talking to people.” (Every summer we’ve tabled at West Seattle Summer Fest, he’s supervised the on-scene officers, which meant a LOT of talking to people, including those who show up at the Information Booth with an urgent problem such as a lost child.)

If recent publicity related to the Department of Justice supervision of SPD has made you wonder about a preponderance of questionable people on the force, Det. Nelson plaintively tried to counter that, saying, “I wish people knew how much we are able to screen people who shouldn’t be out there,” and making it clear the process does catch a lot of unsuitable candidates.

TESTING DATES THIS YEAR: For entry-level candidates, July 12th and October 4th; for “lateral” candidates – who are or have been part of other law-enforcement departments – September 19th-22nd.

NEXT WSCPC MEETING: The council meets the third Tuesday of each month, and president Richard Miller tells WSB that he’s confirmed guests from the SPD Crisis Intervention team for the next meeting, April 15th (7 pm, SW Precinct).

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Happening tonight: Fauntleroy Community Association, West Seattle Crime Prevention Council http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/happening-tonight-fauntleroy-community-association-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/03/happening-tonight-fauntleroy-community-association-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 20:42:09 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=268023 Two community meetings tonight that we want to mention before it’s too late:

FAUNTLEROY ‘FOOD FEST’: Bites from local eateries are an incentive offered by the Fauntleroy Community Association to get nearby residents to its annual membership meeting, part information fair, part mingling opportunity, part election, as previewed here, all starting at 6 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy. (9131 California SW)

WEST SEATTLE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL: WSCPC is scheduled to hear about crime trends from new precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske, and you’re invited to ask about neighborhood concerns. Also, special guests from SPD will talk about recruitment and background checks, as previewed here. 7 pm, Southwest Precinct. (Delridge/Webster)

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Ryan Cox back in jail, after another discussion @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/ryan-cox-back-in-jail-after-another-discussion-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/ryan-cox-back-in-jail-after-another-discussion-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 23:35:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=265455 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Repeat offender Ryan Cox is back in jail this afternoon, hours after his case came up at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting – on a night when the Seattle Mental Health Court was a long-planned topic of discussion.

During the discussion of Cox’s case, we discovered a warrant had been out for his arrest for two weeks, a warrant for violation of probation – same reason he had been taken in (and released after a day) last month. This time, the notation on the publicly viewable Municipal Court docket described him as “not a good candidate for probation” and labeled the warrant as “do not release.” (Photo at right is from 2009, distributed by police the first time Cox was being sought for vandalism.)

The docket also mentioned presiding Municipal Court Judge Kimi Kondo, who happened to be last night’s guest speaker.

Here’s how last night unfolded, including the discussion of the Mental Health Court in general, as well as Cox’s case.

Cox came up during the “community concerns” section of the meeting following new precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske‘s listing of current crime trends (WSB coverage here). An attendee mentioned Cox’s brief time in jail last month following a discussion at the January WSCPC meeting (explained in this WSB report). “We’ve told the patrol officers to be (on the lookout) for him,” Capt. Wilske offered. But the attendee was implacable, frustrated that Cox was back out again.

Judge Kondo tried to explain how the Mental Health Court process worked, but didn’t have any direct knowledge of Cox’s case.

“Do you think nine times in Western State Hospital is enough?” the attendee asked, regarding Cox’s record. Judge Kondo explained how competency and dropping of charges worked, as well as the threshold for civil commitment. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s one of the reasons why we started Mental Health Court, to try to get people some help.”

“He’s being let down by the system,” said another attendee. They tried to explain some of Cox’s behavior, including homophobic insults and vandalism. “If he’s not competent to stand trial, then how is he competent to be out on the street?” Capt. Wilske said he would contact the Crisis Intervention Team to see if there’s anything they can do to help. Judge Kondo noted that no one can be forced to go through the Mental Health Court system, which can be a problem; she said she had relatives with mental-health challenges and knows that one problem is, “they start feeling good and stop taking their meds.”

Said an attendee, “Why should it be up to them to opt in or not? … When these mentally ill people are committing crimes and they’re escalating …”

The judge noted at one point, “If we held every mentally ill person in custody, the jails would be bursting at the seams.” She also said Western State Hospital “got so far behind in the last month or so … there was negotiations … they brought in a team of psychologists and did (so many) psychological evaluations in one day,” they got closer to catching up. Judge Kondo said most of those defendants are not a somewhat extreme case such as Cox.

Judge Kondo brought up a bill that came up in the State House this session, proposed by parents of a mentally ill man shot and killed by Seattle Police during a standoff on Capitol Hill, trying to make it easier for people like their son (and, having read the bill, we’d suggest, like Cox) to be committed. She suggested that people follow the bill’s progress. “It is really difficult to get somebody to acknowledge that they need help and … go into the system.”

She says that the Department of Justice process regarding Seattle Police also revealed that “police don’t really deal well” with mentally ill people, and it depends on what they are dealing with – manic-depressive, schizophrenic, bipolar disorder. They’re working on a training program to give police more tools to identify which cases can “go right into the Mental Health Court.”

While the discussion of Ryan Cox proceeded, we looked up his case in the Seattle Municipal Court system, discovered on the publicly viewable docket that a warrant was issued for his arrest two weeks ago, carrying a bail amount of $15,000. The notation described him as “not a good candidate for probation” and labeled him as “do not release.” It seemed important to bring it to the attention of those gathered during the meeting, so we did. They indicated they’d follow up as soon as they could – which they did, post-meeting – and the general discussion continued.

What age range does the Mental Health Court see? Judge Kondo was asked. 20s, 30s, 40s, she said, but cautioned that it’s not so much that those are the age ranges of mental illness, as the age ranges in which people tend to commit crimes.

What makes a mental-health patient a danger to themselves? Capt. Wilske noted, when they can’t take care of themselves.

“People in mental health crisis are not going to recognize that they need help,” Judge Kondo observed.

The crossover between substance abuse and mental illness came up as well – since people so often “self-medicate” with oft-abused drugs. Judge Kondo said the combination of marijuana and alcohol is increasing in collision reports.

Capt. Wilske said more officers are going to be trained in crisis intervention; Judge Kondo also brought up the subject of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill as a resource for families. She then revealed that her son is bipolar and has been hospitalized for his illness more than a few times. She said it has been time-consuming each time to get him stabilized, yet he has persevered with his goals in life, including getting a college degree in six years, though he currently, she says, is not able to work. “It’s difficult – you don’t get a lot of support … (and) there’s not a lot of resources,” she said, explaining she can empathize with families. He has been in jail and had clashes with police, she went on to explain. When he’s off his medication, she doesn’t even want him around. She said she asked not to even be involved with the Mental Health Court calendar until a year and a half ago because it would have been too emotional, given what had been going on with her son.

“I know from a parent point of view what it’s like to have to deal with this sort of situation,” she said, while also acknowledging it’s “frightening” as a property owner or citizen or someone else. “It’s a difficult situation and I know the police are doing the best they can.” She spoke of one of the SPD Crisis Intervention Team members who she wishes could be “cloned … so we could have 100 of him in the city.”

Then the topic turned yet again to Ryan Cox. A person with a restraining order against him after a skirmish talked about the victimization she felt going through that. Shouldn’t she be getting a call when he’s out? she asks. Judge Kondo says she has orders against people who have threatened to kill her and she doesn’t know where they are, either.

“Earlier you talked about identifying people (who could be serious trouble). It seems to me, John Q. Public, that Ryan Cox has been ID’d.”

But, Capt. Wilske explained, you still have to have some current behavior to deal with someone, to get them off the street, for example.

One of the other attendees, whose workplace has been vandalized by Cox, said that as she gets closer to work, she gets more nervous, all the time. She talked about dreading the thought that he is out there somewhere.

What’s needed to improve the Mental Health Court? WSCPC president Richard Miller asked Judge Kondo as the meeting came to an end.

More forensic psychologists, more access to treatment, more money, said Kondo, saying, “This is the first year in the budget for five years that (the MHC hasn’t been cut) … you can’t solve the problem with money but it certainly helps to get people a little more support.”

She also said that it would be helpful if “the public” could recognize signs of danger and mental illness sooner, to get help earlier. Right now, most serious problems manifest around 19 or 20, she said – “you need education, people need to recognize what they’re looking at, the difference between bipolar and schizophrenia and OCD, which is a different animal …”

Another attendee asked, do you turn people away when you run low on resources?

“We don’t do that, because we have really resourceful people … so far we’ve been able to meet the need,” said the judge, again stressing “it’s a volunteer program, people have to opt in.” And she stressed there are success stories, where people “graduate” from the program after two years’ jurisdiction and are sent on their way – “we give them as many positive strokes as we can … and hope it takes.”

“The stigma of mental illness has kept a lot of progress from happening,” the judge said, clearly with regret. “It doesn’t go away – there’s not a cure for mental illness – it can be managed. It’s a part of their life forever, and a part of yours.”

As Ryan Cox’s has been a part of the community for five years now, since he first came to West Seattle-wide (and beyond) attention in spring 2009 for a spree of homophobic graffiti vandalism. He wound up being arrested twice that year.

His most recent case was a guilty plea to assault, for spitting on and yelling slurs at a man, in December. He was released on New Year’s Eve.

Today, he appeared on the jail register just an hour ago. The Municipal Court website does not yet include information on a hearing or what’s next, but we’ll continue to follow up.

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Update: Meet new Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske at upcoming West Seattle meetings http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/added-guest-for-next-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-meeting-new-southwest-precinct-commander-capt-steve-wilske/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/added-guest-for-next-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-meeting-new-southwest-precinct-commander-capt-steve-wilske/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 05:50:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=264839 ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:50 PM: In our interview with newly appointed Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilskepublished here Monday – he said he planned to attend as many community meetings as possible in the weeks and months ahead to learn about our area. The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council has just announced that he will be at their meeting next Tuesday (February 18th). Their previously scheduled guest, Seattle Municipal Court Presiding Judge C. Kimi Kondo, remains on the agenda too, talking about the city’s Mental Health Court. All are welcome at Tuesday’s WSCPC meeting, 7 pm at the precinct (Delridge/Webster).

ADDED THURSDAY MORNING: Just received an agenda that says Capt. Wilske also will be at the February 19th Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting (7 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW).

ADDED FRIDAY: See comments below – he’ll be at this month’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network meeting too.

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West Seattle Crime Prevention Council, report #2: Changes at the top; Ryan Cox arrest; how Seattle Animal Shelter works… http://westseattleblog.com/2014/01/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-report-2-changes-at-the-top-ryan-cox-arrest-how-seattle-animal-shelter-works/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/01/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-report-2-changes-at-the-top-ryan-cox-arrest-how-seattle-animal-shelter-works/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 02:20:07 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=262452 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

This month’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting began with the formal introduction of the Southwest Precinct‘s new leadership, and quickly moved on to a series of hot topics – including one citizen concern that already has led to action.

And until the citizen concerns were all spoken, the new precinct commander remained at the meeting with a larger accompanying contingent than is usually seen at the meetings – members of the Anti-Crime Team (ACT).

(Photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
“I’m Captain Davis, current Southwest Precinct commander.” Pierre Davis (at right in photo above) introduced himself for the first time since the two promotions reported here last week – his elevation from lieutenant, and previous commander Joe Kessler‘s promotion to assistant chief. He also introduced Lt. Ron Smith as the new operations lieutenant (second-in-command), and explained the black-uniformed ACT members filling the northwest corner of the room: “These are our bird-dogs, these are the individuals who go out and make things happen, they are our strike team, if you will.”

No current crime spikes, he said, and one particular category is half its usual rate – while burglaries run “10-12 a week” this time of year, “right now they’re at five or six.” He attributed that to the arrest of multiple suspects, which he described as “a crew that was just devastating our area.”

Then he asked for neighborhood concerns. First question was about last month’s High Point murder – we’ve already reported the reply, and questions about other unsolved murders, here.

Next, the community concern that seems to already have led to action: Ryan Cox is back in jail, for the third time in two months.

Two attendees asked Tuesday night about the status of Cox, the repeat offender who has been arrested in the past for incidents involving vandalism and assault. They told police that local businesses suspect him in repeat cases of vandalism and have video/photo proof, but hadn’t been able to reach a particular detective to come get it. “We are angry, we are frustrated, we are frightened …” Capt. Davis promised the Anti-Crime Team would get on the case immediately, and if there was cause to arrest him, it would happen.

And it did: The King County Jail Register shows Cox is in jail, arrested this afternoon on a warrant related to his most recent assault case. That case, first reported here December 18th, put him behind bars for two-thirds of the month of December. He was released on New Year’s Eve; ten days later, he was in jail again, on a warrant related to the same case. On January 13th, he was out again, and now, after another ten days, he’s back. He’s being held in lieu of $25,000 bail, and is scheduled for a hearing in city Mental Health Court tomorrow.

OTHER CONCERNS: A Highland Park resident said there are two trouble houses on his block – vacant/foreclosed and beset by squatters. Capt. Davis asked him to provide information privately later so it can be checked out. One other resident stood up simply to say she had a concern she wanted to talk to police about, and was also assured she could talk to them one-on-one after the meeting.

In summary: “We want to put the best foot forward in 2014 .. and make it a quiet 2014,” said Capt. Davis.

(One note – his role as precinct commander is not a permanent appointment, yet; much is still in flux at SPD.)

Next, the night’s featured guest:

SEATTLE ANIMAL SHELTER: Ann Graves, a West Seattle-born high-ranking manager in SAS – aka “animal control,” among other roles – explained how the agency’s role has evolved. “Our officers are now not just referred to as animal control officers, but also animal law enforcement officers – our officers, like police officers, are out there investigating crimes involving animals.” She said their number of incoming animals is decreasing, and the amount of resources they have to help animals – “animals that would have been put to sleep a few years ago; we have resources” to help them get better.

She manages the field services, with 12 officers and one supervisor covering 7 days a week, 10 hours a day (9 am-7 pm) – they pick up dead animals, either domestic or wildlife; they pick up stray animals; responses are “complaint-based,” so if you see something, say something. One officer per shift handles dispatching. Speaking of which: Would you call 911 to report an animal problem? she was asked. No – call 206-386-PETS unless it’s a life-threatening emergency, in which case, yes, call 911.

She mentioned increasing concerns about “dog-flipping.” Few acknowledged recognizing the term. She said that it involves people posting that they want to find a new home for their pet – somebody who sounds well-meaning takes it, and then turns around and posts it for sale. This can be a crime if the animal is procured under such false pretenses, Graves said – it would become property theft, and police would have to deal with it. Same if animal cruelty is involved – dog-flippers might amass a house full of animals, and that might constitute animal cruelty.

Some people are “stealing dogs right out of front yards,” said Graves. “So first thing you can do, don’t leave your dogs unattended.” In case your pet does get stolen – make sure you can prove you’re the owner (chip, licensing, etc.).”

Questions:

Why can’t officers just sweep in and seize an animal if it’s dangerous, being abused, etc.? Regarding investigations, she said, it takes a while, to find out what’s going on, compile evidence, prepare citations – they can’t just march in and take an animal away.

What kind of training do SAS officers get? There is a specific training academy, Graves said; she teaches the “sheltering” segment there every year, in fact. But an increasing amount of training is done online, with webinars, for example. Most of their officers “come with a vet-tech background,” so they have some animal-medicine background. But they also learn from police – how to write a report, for example.

She fielded questions such as “what about animals in grocery stores?” Graves suggested consulting the Office of Civil Rights explanation of service animals. “This was a ‘purse’ animal,” the person who asked the question clarified. But, anyone can say an animal is a service animal, and there are limits to what you can ask about it. Graves said, “It’s unfortunate to see (some people abuse that),” and yes, it’s “uncomfortable to see an animal walking around the vegetable aisle.”

“The animal menace in my neighborhood are raccoons and coyotes – do you handle that too?” an attendee asked. No, they don’t deal with nuisance wildlife, said Graves, repeating advice given by wildlife experts – please don’t feed pets outside, seal up holes in your basement and attic to keep them from nesting indoors, and check out the “co-existing with wildlife” information available from the state. It is not illegal to set a humane trap for nuisance wildlife on your property, Graves said, but once you trap it, you either have to set it free on your own property or you need to kill it. The problem with just killing nuisance wildlife is that they will be replaced – unless you solve the root problem that’s attracting them.

How about dog waste on your property? If you identify whose animal it is and can tell Animal Control about that, they can go to the house and talk to the owner. She also mentioned that you are required to clean up your own property at least once every 24 hours – so if you have a neighbor who doesn’t clean up, you can report them, not just violating the scoop law, but also for possible animal cruelty. How about people who throw their dog waste in your trash? Graves acknowledges that’s frustrating. “There’s not a simple solution.”

(At that point, Operations Lt. Smith said that vicious-dog calls have gone down dramatically in recent years in West Seattle.)

if you are filing a complaint about someone you saw violate the leash law, you have to sign that you will testify under penalty of perjury “sometimes people are not comfortable with that – I can’t issue a ticket for something you saw that I didn’t see without that statement.”

Speaking of which – what are the penalties for that and other violations? Graves was asked. A few samples:

*Leash law in a neighborhood – $54
*Dog bite, broken skin – $269
*If not vaccinated for rabies, $54 more

She declared she had “had a lot of fun” speaking to the group. Find out more about the Seattle Animal Shelter at seattleanimalshelter.org.

The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets most months on the third Tuesday, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct.

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Video: Crime trends, transportation safety @ West Seattle Crime Prevention Council http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/video-crime-trends-transportation-safety-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/video-crime-trends-transportation-safety-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2013 07:04:32 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=256644

Tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting featured crime-trend updates from Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Pierre Davis and transportation-safety info from SDOT’s Jim Curtin (who started speaking about 26 minutes into our video). We’ll add toplines later but just in case you’re interested, we recorded the entire hour and a half meeting on video and it’s just finished uploading, so we present it here for your potential late-night/early-morning viewing. More later!

ADDED 9:40 AM WEDNESDAY: Toplines from WSB’s Katie Meyer:

*From SDOT community traffic liaison Jim Curtin’s presentation – the top spots in West Seattle for collisions, October 2010-October 2013:

1) Olson Place SW and 1st (aka, east end of Roxbury)
2) 35th/Avalon (that includes collisions near the bridge entrance)
3) 8th SW and SW Roxbury

Major causes of collisions:

33% caused by speeding
48& of fatal crashes involve impaired drivers (alcohol or drugs – no increase in marijuana so far)
22% of fatal crashes involve distraction

Most common type of collision in West Seattle:
“Hit parked cars” (1,150 hit parked car hit “incidents “in the three-year time period Curtin covered – some are multiple-vehicle incidents, so higher total of hit parked car numbers).

CRIME TRENDS: Lt. Davis stressed both the importance of reporting crime AND suspicious sightings – “partnership with the community” – and of prevention. People are still, he lamented, leaving keys in cars, leaving home doors unlocked, etc. Also, he warned, mail and package theft ramp up this time of year (for obvious reasons), and he reiterated something noted last month, that West Seattle will have holiday-season emphasis patrols, with officers out on foot beats. Traffic emphasis patrols will be “highly visible” in the months ahead, too.

NEXT MEETING: WSCPC is taking December off; at 7 pm January 21st, Ann Graves from Seattle Animal Shelter will be on hand to discuss various animal-control issues.

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West Seattle Crime Prevention Council: Drug Diversion Court spotlighted; holiday crimefighting plans http://westseattleblog.com/2013/10/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-drug-diversion-court-spotlighted-holiday-crimefighting-plans/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/10/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-drug-diversion-court-spotlighted-holiday-crimefighting-plans/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 18:20:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=252888 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Seattle Police plan a crackdown on holiday crime, with the help of an extra overtime allotment.

So reported Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Pierre Davis during his briefing at the start of this month’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting.

In addition to Q/A with Lt. Davis, the meeting included an SPD narcotics detective and King County Drug Diversion Court manager explaining how that program works to try to stop the cycle of crime by addicts who are in and out of court and jail as they just keep stealing to pay for their habit.

First, the holiday-crime crackdown. “Lots of foot beats for the holidays” in potential trouble spots – The Junction, Westwood Village, etc. – said Lt. Davis, elaborating on something he and precinct commander Capt. Joe Kessler had brought up when briefing the Alki Community Council last month – the allocation of more overtime so they can use it for patrols – money he said “we’re hoping to stretch out to the end of the year, for as much crime-deterrent visibility as possible.

As for overall current crime trends – no new revelations. Lt. Davis once again hammered on the theme of encouraging community members to report anything and everything in hopes of getting crooks off the street, considering that, as he put it: “They strike when the opportunity is golden, and sometimes the opportunity is grand.” He also exhorted community members to report ALL crimes (all the way down to car prowls in which nothing was taken) – he says police still believe some are not being reported. So call 911, and don’t be daunted by dispatchers’ pointed questions as they do their job – be ready with as much suspect information (if applicable) as you can offer. “We really do need to get that information out there.” He stressed repeatedly, if you don’t tell police about trouble spots, they don’t know, so: “If you see something, say something.”

The burglary and car prowl trends go up and down; “auto theft, same thing,” said Lt. Davis, “all depends on who’s in and who’s out of jail – often we catch the (suspects) but it’s very very difficult for us to keep them in jail,” the way the justice system works (or doesn’t). “We’re working very hard to get them the type of time they truly deserve.” With juvenile suspects, he said, it’s tougher to keep them in – they’re not held for very long, under current laws. (The most recent SPD crime stats are for August – we published a brief breakdown/comparison here.)

Disappointment in the justice system also came up during this meeting’s Q/A, which also touched on issues ranging from response times to crashes (if they’re not major, it depends on what else officers have on their plate at the time), to the rationale behind school-zone cameras and other zones’ radar-camera signboards, both of which Lt. Davis defended as life-savers.

Also from Q/A: No new information on the 28th/Roxbury assault reported here on Monday night, said Lt. Davis, nor on the stabbings in the Westwood Village area, nor on the West Marginal crash death over the weekend.

And he wrapped up with a reminder about Drug Takeback Day at the precinct on October 26th.

Speaking of drugs …

Det. David Doucett, a narcotics detective with SPD and veteran law enforcer, was one of the featured guests focusing on the King County Drug Diversion Court. He went into background of how it came to be – addicts would get arrested, no treatment, would get back out, get back to using, and then get back to crime to pay for their habit, and the cycle would resume.

Then in 1994, then-King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, hailed by Det. Doucett as “visionary,” created the county’s Drug Diversion Court. “Instead of completing this cycle, we would try to intervene with treatment.” That would require some incentive, to say the least – such as, you go to prison for five to 10 years, or accept treatment.

He went into some of how it works – those who slip up in the program go into jail for a while “to get a taste of what they would be facing otherwise”; the program also offers tools to help the addict, for example, methadone for heroin addicts. There’s also required urinalysis, for example. If participants don’t show up for court hearings or other requirements – “I’m going to find you – and I’m really, really good at finding people” – he gave one example, of someone he had to go up to Oak Harbor to find (but he did find them).

In a current case, he said, he’s working to make sure that one person’s “gang membership doesn’t get in the way of his treatment.”

Do you go after the dealers, too? the detective was asked. Right now, in fact, he said, that’s the focus of what they are doing. “The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says in order to get into Drug Court, you either have to have a high number of (arrest/conviction) points or 3 to 6 grams of drugs.”

For more about how it works once a defendant is in the system, Tom Essex from Drug Diversion Court picked up the presentation.

An opiate addict needs a “fix” every four to six hours, for example, he explained. And that’s why they are such prolific thieves – they have to get money and go get more drugs. And that’s why treatment can reduce crime. “These guys are constantly figuring out how they’re going to feed their habit.”

“Drug courts do work – I’m not going to give you a bunch of statistics ’cause you can look that up yourself,” he said. But candidates have to have no violence or sex-offender crimes in their history, he noted. It means a minimum 10-month commitment. The urine samples are twice a week, observed, and administered randomly.

Drug Court has two hearing times daily – about 20 people in the morning, 20 in the afternoon. “We use Drug Court as theater,” he explained. And they have to have a conversation with the defendant about how it’s going. It’s not “hug a thug,” he said – it’s people agreeing that they are guilty and waiving their right to a jury trial because if they make it through the program, the felony charge will be dismissed; if they don’t, they’re off straight to prison.

He explained the expectations – tell the truth (“difficult for addicts, but they CAN do it”), for example, show up for the urinalysis, etc., and if there is a mistake, they get put behind bars for one to three days (short enough to keep them from getting comfortable.

The ten months (minimum) are broken into three phases. They have rewards for participants who are doing well – show up, full compliance – they get to the head of the line at court check-ins, even coffee cards.

He offered volumes of information – including how they can detect if somebody is trying to cheat on their urine tests (from temperature to levels of certain non-drug substances), how there’s a “chain of custody” for samples, how offenders are observed when they give samples, etc. And he acknowledges there are “tons of drugs in jail.”

The two types of people who don’t do well with Drug Court are people with traumatic brain injury and paranoid schizophrenics, Essex said – it’s just too rigorous. “Other than that, we actually look for the biggest and baddest – we screen everybody coming into the program for criminogenic risk and prognostic need.”

Essex also discussed some of the drugs used for addicts – from methadone to Narcan (which “peels off all the opiate receptors and puts them into immediate withdrawal”) to Antabuse.

The immediate goal: Become clean and sober. “As they progress in the program, we start raising our expectations – the longer they’re in the program, the more we expect of them.”

Do you think it’s working? Det. Doucett was asked. His reply: Yes.

The next West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting on November 19th will focus on traffic/transportation safety with Jim Curtin from SDOT.

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Meet neighbors, fight crime: WSCPC, Fauntleroy meetings ahead http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/meet-neighbors-fight-crime-wscpc-fauntleroy-meetings-ahead/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/meet-neighbors-fight-crime-wscpc-fauntleroy-meetings-ahead/#comments Sat, 14 Sep 2013 19:56:39 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=249836 Two crime-prevention meetings ahead that you might want to check out:

DENNY, SEALTH PRINCIPALS @ CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL: The special guests have been announced for Tuesday’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting:

We will have Chief Sealth International High School principal Aida Fraser-Hammer and Denny International Middle School principal Jeff Clark; they will discuss safety and security in their schools and the surrounding area. We will also discuss if having a combined campus has presented any unique safety problems.

Fears of such problems were amply voiced six years ago, before the new Denny was built adjacent to a renovated Sealth; the new school year is the third one of full co-location. The WSCPC meeting is at 7 pm Tuesday (September 17th), Southwest Precinct (Delridge/Webster).

FAUNTLEROY COMMUNITY SAFETY: The Fauntleroy Community Association found out via its recent community survey that crime prevention/safety is a topic of intense interest in their area, so FCA is hosting a special forum on Thursday, September 26th. It’s at The Hall at Fauntleroy in the historic schoolhouse, and will start with an ice-cream social at 6:30, meeting at 7, including presentations by Southwest Precinct police, and community Q/A.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Alan Polevia update; Crime Prevention Council notes http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/west-seattle-crime-watch-alan-polevia-update-crime-prevention-council-notes/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/west-seattle-crime-watch-alan-polevia-update-crime-prevention-council-notes/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 13:17:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=155238 Two West Seattle Crime Watch topics this morning – an update on a criminal case we’ve been following, and the brief notes from this month’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting.

ARBOR HEIGHTS ARREST CASE: Bail is now down to $2,500 for Alan Polevia, the repeat offender arrested after being found in the crawl space of an Arbor Heights home last week (WSB coverage here). As the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office had said would happen, Polevia went to court Wednesday to answer the charges on which he failed to appear back in March, burglary and theft charges related to a West Seattle case from last year. He pleaded not guilty, and the judge said he could be released on personal recognizance. Conditions of release include that he continue living at an apartment in the 11900 block of 16th South (map) for the duration of the case. We don’t have access to documents on the two other cases on which he was held, but the bottom line is that the jail register shows $2,500 bail still in effect related to one of them.

The Polevia case was brought up briefly by an attendee at Tuesday night’s WSCPC meeting. This time around, the meeting had no central topic, as there were no guests. Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Pierre Davis described Polevia as a “frequent flyer” whom they’ll be keeping an eye on if he gets out. Read on for other toplines:

CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL NOTES: As usual, the meeting started with Lt. Davis’s assessment of current crime trends. Property crimes have been “going up and down,” he reported, saying police are watching people who are “out of jail and (back) capering.” And they appreciate partnering with the community because “Block Watches are our bread and butter right now.” And he urged citizens to take preventive measures such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) – “keep up the good work … if you need us, call us.” Later it was noted that strong-arm robberies, which were reported as on the rise last meeting, and Lt. Davis said they had made some arrests along those lines too, and are trying to see what the suspects might be accountable for.

WSCPC vice president Larry Ruda reported a tire-slashing the previous night in the 8700 block of 16th SW in Highland Park.

An attendee asked what the rights are if someone is the victim of theft and spots their stolen property in a pawn shop – she said a landscaper had done that and been told by the shopkeeper to get lost. Provide the information to police, Lt. Davis said. “There is a whole system in place that allows us to do our thing.” Community Police Team Officer John Flores reiterated that reporting the theft is the most important thing you can do – make sure you know the serial numbers of the valuables you own – and then after a theft, you can check eBay, Craigslist, pawn shops, and if you think you see what’s yours and you report that to police, they can place it on investigative hold.

Other topics that came up:

*15th/Holden trouble spot: Three of the four tenants blamed for problems earlier in the year have been moved out, and the fourth one will be soon; the landlords have been working with police and getting advice on better ways to screen tenants.

*Pet theft (the recent White Center case was noted by an attendee)

*Wire theft (the recent Sound Transit-related case was noted by an attendee – here’s the latest from the feds and SPD)

*Vacant houses (if you see a problem with squatters or other nuisances, contact your Community Police Team officer – find contact info here. They can attempt contact with the owner, and if the owner won’t board it up, the city might be able to.)

*Predictive Policing – asked how it’s going, Lt. Davis said “it’s still on trial for me … you just can’t get away from good old-fashioned police work.” Nothing beats “saturating the area with officers” when needed.

*Staffing levels – there are a “few” openings right now, Lt. Davis said, but they are working to fill them every chance they get, as officers emerge from the academies, for example.

*If you’re going on vacation, make sure your mail doesn’t pile up; use timers to activate lights or even a radio at times.

The WSCPC now goes on summer semi-hiatus – no regular meeting until September. In the meantime, registration is open for Night Out block parties on August 6th – go here.

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West Seattle Crime Watch: Stolen CR-V; WSCPC tomorrow http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/west-seattle-crime-watch-stolen-cr-v-wscpc-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/west-seattle-crime-watch-stolen-cr-v-wscpc-tomorrow/#comments Mon, 17 Jun 2013 17:48:09 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=155067 Two quick notes in West Seattle Crime Watch this morning:

STOLEN CAR: Taylor asks you to keep an eye out for his girlfriend’s car, stolen last night on 10th SW in Highland Park. It’s a black 2000 Honda CR-V, with plates ending in WLO. Call 911 if you see it.

WEST SEATTLE CRIME PREVENTION COUNCIL: Since the WSCPC doesn’t meet in July and August, this is your last chance to get a guaranteed SPD audience for a neighborhood concern. In fact, that’s what tomorrow’s meeting will be devoted to, along with updates and followups (including a discussion of the recent Lincoln Park safety walk). 7 pm Tuesday (June 18th), Southwest Precinct – parking lot entrance is off Webster, west of Delridge Way.

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West Seattle Crime Prevention Council x 2: Safety walk; burglary briefing http://westseattleblog.com/2013/05/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-x-2-safety-walk-burglary-briefing/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/05/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-x-2-safety-walk-burglary-briefing/#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 18:45:33 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=152256

The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council has just concluded a busy week with two events – its regular meeting May 21st, and a Lincoln Park safety walk last night. Walk participants and organizers are in our photo abaove along with, at right, SPD Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores, and, third from left, Seattle Parks’ Carol Baker. Both said that by far, the most-serious crime problem at the park is car break-ins; too many people drive to the park and leave valuables in their vehicles in plain sight. Otherwise, the only other trouble of note involved occasional vandalism, per Baker, and late-night partying during summer months, per Officer Flores.

Ahead, toplines from last week’s regular WSCPC meeting:

CRIME TRENDS: From the precinct’s Operations Lt. Pierre Davis: There’s been an increase in robberies most recently – “there are individuals who are opportunists out there who are going for iPods, cell phones, things like that” … he says they are keeping an eye on patterns and suspects. Same goes for burglaries. “This month, we’ve just been … killing ‘em … because citizens for whatever reason are calling 911 again.” But don’t get confident – “warm summer months are going to bring Mr. Bad Guy out there again … but we’re here to win.” In fact, he said he was late to the meeting because he was dealing with another arrest. Asked about auto theft, Lt. Davis mentions that the car of choice right now is the Subaru, because of the shaved keys thieves have, among other factors.

One man says he’s here because his area in the 39th/40th/Bradford area has had five burglaries in the past two months. “Our neighborhood now is just asking … who’s going to be next.” Lt. Davis brings up the Predictive Policing software that should help with something like that but nothing beats making sure that everything is reported to police. “But we have made a lot of burglary arrests in the last month and I would not be surprised if some of the individuals we’ve gotten our hands on in the last month are responsible for that area.”

Assaults have “picked up” lately too, says Lt. Davis.

SPECIAL GUEST, SW PRECINCT BURGLARY DETECTIVE JILL VANSKIKE: She works in eastern West Seattle. “When I first came on as detective, our burglars were pretty lazy … local, sold their stuff local, pretty easy to find.” But now, they’re mobile – they may come from far away, and sell their stuff elsewhere.

She added that it’s often juveniles in a group of two or three – they case someplace, decide it looks like no one home, knock on the door, someone’s a lookout, someone goes around back to enter – they’re looking for open windows “or any kind of easy method to get in.” Electronics, jewelry, cash, guns are what they’re after, she said.

At some scenes, they don’t find fingerprints, because gloves are being worn … but if they do find prints, they might belong to juveniles with no record, but they go into a database and if and when the burglars are arrested for something – there’s a match.

What happens if there’s a particular neighborhood that’s getting hit often? she was asked. “Often it might be someone who’s comfortable in the neighborhood and so stays close,” she explained. Predictive Policing should help, she said, “predicting crime based on these kinds of things.” Another man, saying he lived in Seaview in an area of dead-end streets heading toward Lincoln Park, got hit repeatedly in the past month. “Last Thursday,” he added, while he and a neighbor who were both home, the neighbor got hit even while he was in the garage. “They’re opportunists,” confirmed the detective. Anything that’s in sight when a criminal happens by could wind up being a target. (The man later talked about harassment by a group of people. Officer Kiehn advised, get your Block Watch involved and make sure everybody knows what’s going on so that it’s not obvious if just one person reports something.)

She also mentioned the Repeat Burglar Initiative launched by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. “They’re targeting these people and giving them longer sentences, and we’ve gotten some major players off the street and they’re getting some major hard time now,” same as the PAO’s auto-theft initiative.

Another meeting participant suggested to the resident that his block start keeping a log of everything that happens.

Officer Kiehn, in the meantime, told everyone about the city’s online crime maps and how you can check reported incidents on your block related to the rest of the city. “One of the things about West Seattle is that we have a lot of access to crime information.”

One attendee asked whether police could help with a “sting” type operation in his neighborhood. First, Lt. Davis stressed, the most important tool neighbors could have is a thriving Block Watch, and the precinct is always happy to help with that.

Crime Prevention Officer Mark Solomon – who can help Block Watches get set up, and promised at this meeting that he’ll attend organizational gatherings, as he so often does – recapped some of the tips he has shared previously regarding reducing your chances of becoming a burglary victim (published here last year).

And just in case burglars strike, despite prevention efforts:

Officer Kiehn reiterated, you have to “document the things you have” if you have any hope of getting items back if and when they are recovered.

Det. Vanskike reiterated, marking your property – etching a social-security number, for example – will help. Other advice:

–write down serial numbers
–don’t keep your Social Security card any place where it might get stolen
–take photos of your belongings and send to yourself on cloud E-mail account (Gmail, Yahoo! mail, outlook.com, etc.), don’t just keep photos on your computer
–photos more helpful than video, if investigators need it
–cell phones and gold are also big targets for thieves

One more note: Burglaries are a daytime crime, car prowls are a nighttime crime.

The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council’s regular meetings – except for some summer and holiday exceptions – are on the third Tuesdays, 7 pm, SW Precinct; next meeting, June 18th. Watch wscpc.blogspot.com for announcements between meetings.

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West Seattle Crime Prevention Council told of ‘upswing’ in gunfire, gang-related activity http://westseattleblog.com/2013/04/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-told-of-upswing-in-gunfire-gang-related-activity/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/04/west-seattle-crime-prevention-council-told-of-upswing-in-gunfire-gang-related-activity/#comments Thu, 18 Apr 2013 00:30:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=148533

(11/30/12 photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One rainy night last November, we reported on a shooting at a South Delridge bus stop.

While it was over fast, and the victim survived his leg wounds, it apparently has reverberated ever since, according to what Seattle Police Gang Unit representatives told the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council last night.

Not only did an SPD Gang Unit detective attend, so did the lieutenant who is in charge of the Robbery and Fugitives Units as well as the Gang Unit, and a wide-ranging conversation ensued.

There was a relatively sizable crowd on hand, too, at least 30 people ringing the Southwest Precinct meeting room, and many brought questions including an increasingly common one – what to do when you think you hear gunshots?

As is usual for the WSCPC’s monthly meetings, Operations Lt. Pierre Davis started with an update on crime trends. He had little to report, saying that property crime is still “doing quite well” – as in, on the low side of average rates – and reminding those in attendance that residents’ help is vital, with 911 calls and Block Watches. He mentioned a “disturbing trend in youth activities” but said they know who they are looking for and hope to make arrests soon. (That seemed to dovetail with what the Gang Unit guests discussed later in the meeting.)

After a few minutes, again as per the meeting’s usual format, Lt. Davis invited questions.

The first came from a resident who said two people in her area had doors kicked in by burglars, between 40th/41st and Dawson/Hudson. (Same incidents noted in our Crime Watch roundup last night.) She noticed a lot of graffiti in the area “and a lot of people hanging out in the area,” so they’re asking for more patrols in the area.

Second question asked about how Predictive Policing, newly deployed in SPD, is being used, and how that relates to the fact that some communities under-report crime. Lt. Davis replied that it’s “just a tool” and does not prevent officers from being deployed in other areas where things are happening. Speaking of tools, he also was asked what’s happening with the data and feedback gathered in the recent round of community outreach via the “Safe Communities” initiative; Lt. Davis said he’s just heard that decisions resulting from community feedback will be incorporated into next year’s budget.

In response to another question, Lt. Davis said there are “walking beat” officers in West Seattle – deployed at various times on various areas of the peninsula.

Dorsol Plants, who is public-safety rep from the North Delridge Neighborhood Council, asked about how homeless encampments are being dealt with. Lt. Davis said that right now, most of the emphasis on dealing with encampments is focused on “Nickelsville”; no specific incidents were mentioned.

A Delridge-area resident said she had heard gunfire multiple times in her neighborhood and she’s wondering what police are doing to curb that, and why doesn’t she hear helicopters? Lt. Davis acknowledged there’s been “an upswing” in gunfire incidents – and said there’s been “a nexus” relating to recent incidents. He mentioned the Charlestown/Avalon robbery/shooting incident – you’ll recall that police did not confirm for days that it was indeed an attempted robbery – and said that other incidents sometimes don’t turn out to be what they originally seem to be. The resident then said she meant the “full clip of shots” that she believes she’s heard; she referred to an incident at 2:30 am Saturday. She just wanted to make sure it was on police radar, and Lt. Davis said it was.

What about the 20th/Cloverdale house that’s been repeatedly shot at? “There’s been a letter developed for individuals in that house saying they’re close to being a nuisance house and will be dealt with,” Lt. Davis said.

The evening’s special guests got back around to that specific case before ong.

Lt. Dan Whelan - lieutenant for gang, robbery, fugitive unit – joined Detective Clayton Agate at the top of the meeting. He explained that the crimes handled by the units he supervises are “all violent crimes” – 32 detectives in the unit, 4 sergeants. 8 detectives work in robbery – on all cases except juveniles, which are the responsibility of the precincts, “in hopes they’ll work better with the suspects’ families.” Two detectives in the robbery unit work on the Puget Sound Robbery Task Force with the FBi.

The fugitive unit has two detectives, plus a third assigned to the U.S. Marshals’ Pacific NW Task Force.

14 detectives and three sergeants work on the gang unit – about two-thirds of them (9 detectives) at night, six assigned part-time to the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. Lt. Whelan talked about the interface with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and how they work with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to see where it’s most appropriate to prosecute criminals such as felons in possession of firearms “to make sure that person gets as much (prison) time as possible.”

Gang Unit detectives like Agate wear uniforms, unlike other detectives in SPD, because “we want them to be distinctive.” And, he said, “we want them to know every gang member in the city of Seattle.” And that might make them think twice, when gang members see the police who know them. Not everyone who might claim to be a gang member is one, though, he cautioned.

So who’s in gangs? 14-18 year olds, “living a lifestyle where at their home it’s so bad that it’s a viable option for them to join a criminal gang … it might even be an improvement over what they have at home,” said Lt. Whelan. “They’re frightened and insecure individuals, and very antisocial, and don’t have much compunction in hurting people, and their violence is pretty stupid and pretty senseless.”

He noted repeatedly during the meeting that thieves – gang or otherwise – are targeting people with “Apple products” – iPhones, iPods – and earbuds are dead giveaways. “These kids … usually ride Metro routes, and if they see somebody with earbuds, they’re an instant target,” though they also evaluate targets for vulnerability. (Later, he again repeated his advice against using earbuds in public, comparing citizen-vs.-criminal to something like deer vs. predators – saying the former survive because they are always on alert: “Of all the nature shows I’ve seen on TV, I’ve never seen a deer with earbuds.”)

So, the big question – is there a gang problem here? According to Lt. Whelan: “We do have a situation in West Seattle.” With that, he handed the spotlight over to Det. Agate to talk about the 20th/Cloverdale situation, while cautioning he couldn’t share a lot.

He says it traces back to the 9200 block of Delridge bus-stop shooting back in November, in which one person was shot in the leg, someone else grazed. “That’s when we first came to know some of the individuals involved. … Then it was quiet for a few months, until March.” The house in question has been targeted four times, March 9th-April 2nd, Det. Agate said. And police believe, he said, that there is some association between the November shooting victim and someone with ties to that house, even though everyone they’ve talked to there denies gang involvement. He did not get more specific – they had warned that they would not be able to, without jeopardizing the ongoing investigation.

That’s when the topic of “what to do when you hear gunfire” resurfaced. DO call, the detective stressed. A call about gunfire is “high urgency” for police; Community Police Team Officer Jon Kiehn elaborated that the number of calls is also an indicator of a higher urgency level – so DO call, even if you’re certain somebody else did. Referring to the question earlier in the meeting, Officer Kiehn said there were no confirmed gunfire calls on Saturday – meaning officers responded but found no evidence of gunfire, no casings, no property damage – so it would be logged as a “disturbance.”

When you call, Det. Agate said, try to be as specific as you can regarding the number of shots you think you heard, and the direction from which they were heard. And yes, he said, even though many calls turn out to be fireworks, they would rather get called about them than not be called and later “find someone bleeding in an alley.”

The recent activity seems to be tied to a gang whose name we won’t publish in its entirety, but the initials are VL. You might have seen its name in graffiti vandalism around south West Seattle; be sure to report that graffiti, the police said.

“You have very active juveniles who associate with gangs in West Seattle, and it’s getting more active.”

What exactly are they fighting over? asked one attendee.

“That’s one of the key points we’re trying to find out,” said Det. Agate, noting that there was a fight a few days before the bus stop shooting, between some VL associates and associates of another area gang. That’s one theory; drug sales is another theory. The attendee then said, “I’ve been here five years and I’ve seen it get dramatically worse in the past six months,” and wondered why.

“I can tell you that one of the victims of the shooting” – which they caught up with later – “was not from the area. … Whether that shows us that the gang members are coming from out of the area and trying to stake claim to the Delridge corridor, I can’t say.”

Will the legalization of marijuana change the way gangs work? Det. Agate was asked. He said he’s seen an increase in home-invasion robberies related to marijuana grows, since dispensaries started opening up. The lieutenant added that he’s not expecting legalization to solve the problems inherent in drug-related crime – buying it legally, “with a huge tax,” may not be everyone’s choice, so he believes an underground market will remain. Growers are arming themselves, the lieutenant added, and that can make the situation more dangerous; he believes growers and sellers are targets because “they have something (the robbers) want.”

He noted then that the gang problem has evolved: When he first got here in 1980, “there were no gangs,” said the lieutenant – but then older gang members headed up here from California, “easy pickings to run prostitutes, sling dope … they had some connections in California.” Then in the late ’80s, crack cocaine led to an increase here and in other cities. There were three main gangs back then “who would shoot it out with each other,” he said. Usually not fatally. But “things have changed dramatically.” And now the problem has headed from here into the smaller South King County cities (Tukwila to Kent); he mentioned the Kent car-related shooting in summer of 2011. He said they’ve been investigating “Hispanic gangs” since then and hinted at a possible “grand-slam home run,” multi-agency, breakthrough sometime soon.

Investigators around the region are in close communication electronically, said the lieutenant – “we are exchanging information with all the local jurisdictions; it’s very, very productive.”

The lieutenant’s parting words involved blaming much of the violence on “boys between the ages of 14-26 … Why? Testosterone. (They’re) aggressive … you don’t stop and think, you just go out and do stuff.” Violent youth don’t have “a mom and a dad grabbing us by the hair, pulling us back and telling us no. A lot of them don’t have it. … That’s who we’re dealing with. These kids we see out here, very poor circumstances. They’re not going away. We’re going to have to find a solution.”

(Not that crime is limited to the young; he also recapped the tale of the two bank robbers in their ’60s whose spree, including a West Seattle heist, started when both got out of prison and got back to their heroin habit; they recently were sentenced, as reported here.)

When it comes to self-protection – use common sense. “The Seattle Police Department can’t protect you 24/7, we do our best … but if you’re going to learn to live in an urban environment, you’re going to have to learn to live in an urban environment … use direct deposit .. a locking mailbox …” And keep reporting what you see and hear: “We could solve most of the shootings in the city of Seattle within 24 hours if every citizen came forward with the information, but they don’t … there is an active ‘don’t snitch’ ethic that is killing us, killing them, and hurting you guys … we need people to talk. There’s no penalty (for) calling.”

The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets third Tuesdays, 7 pm, at the SW Precinct.

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